Inquisitorial Faith in “To My Dear Children” and “The Flesh and the Spirit”
It is through harshness that you start questioning yourself, your beliefs, and purpose in life, but is during these times that we do not perceive the light, that–from a Christian perspective–we must persist and trust that God will guide us. America’s first issued rhymester and initial female to engender a lifelong volume poesy in the English linguistic, Anne Bradstreet, epitomizes in her poetry how she, being a puritan believer numerous times interrogated her faith, purpose in life, and even questioned if God really exists. Conspicuously, Anne Bradstreet reflects a sense of abdicating and inquisitorial faith in her writing of “To My Dear Children” and “The Flesh and the Spirit” as an ensuing of her innermost battles with her spirituality.
Bradstreet affirms in her writing of “To My Dear Children” how she in fresher years instigated to make principles in her faith but as she grew older, she started doubting her beliefs. According to Bradstreet, “I have often been perplexed that I have not found that constant joy in my pilgrimage and refreshing which I supposed most of the servant of God have…” (125). In here, Bradstreet inquiry why even though she is ensuring the pilgrimage as any other puritan she cannot distinguish the pleasure of such faith. Not to mention, the grief she suffered when she risked death by childbirth eight times and ended up losing her offspring, “God keep me a long time without a child, which was a great grief to me and cost me many prayer and tears before I obtained one” (124). Indeed, Bradstreet was shaken by how God was responding to her well-being, which was the start of her inquisitorial faith and “whether there was a God” (125).
Additionally, Bradstreet not only inquiries about her conviction and the existence of Divinity, but she also expresses her religious and inner conflicts in “The Flesh and the Spirit.” According to Bradstreet, “Nothing but meditation/ Doth contemplation feed thee, so regardlessly to let earth go/ Can speculation satisfy Notion without reality/” (“The Flesh…” l. 10-14). Bradstreet portrays the skirmish feeling she has with her inner soul and her body, the struggle she has following the puritan’s philosophies and trusts on the Calvin doctrine without falling in temptations of contradicting or doubting the scriptures. Furthermore, “Many times hath Satan troubled me concerning the verity of the Scriptures, many times by atheism how I could know whether there was a God; I never saw any miracle to confirm me, and those which I read of, how did I know but they were feigned?” (“To My Dear…” 125). Again, Bradstreet reflects how many times she distrusted the veracity of the Scriptures, how many times she felt like she was disgracing her principles with her way of discerning, and many times she even did not believe in the existence in God.
Correspondingly, Bradstreet also brawls with her inner soul for refurbishment for her depravities which contradicts her convictions with Divinity. Bradstreet expresses this scuffle in her inscription “The Flesh and the Spirit” by portraying ecstasy and how she contemplates not being comfy to such divine city, “the city where I hope to dwell/ There’s none on earth can parallel/… This city pure is not for thee/ for things unclean there shall not be/ If I of heaven may have my fill/ Take thou the world, and all that will” (“The Flesh…” l. 85-86, 106-109). Here, Bradstreet struggles with her inner self as she ponders, if she is unworthy of inflowing the gates of Heaven, the divine city, as she pronounces being made up of gold and that only the untainted can arrive. Likewise, Bradstreet portrays that Earth “hath more silver, pearls, and gold/ than eyes can see or hands can hold” (“The Flesh…” l. 31-32). Referring, to the initial debauchery of Adam and Eve, where the temptation of such precious things “Earth hath” (The Flesh…” l. 31) caused the depravity of all humans, and she brawls to encounter that temptation. Thus, Bradstreet continues her struggle with her body and soul for those means.
Ultimately, Bradstreet was a Puritan who struggles with her inner soul and her body as a result of the ultimate human depravity. Furthermore, we see these skirmishes in her scripts “To My Dear Children” and “The Flesh and the Spirit” that reflect how many times she tempted her views on the Scriptures and even the Divine himself, making her feel unworthy of ecstasy. Additionally, she struggles with the temptations that center on human depravity. However, Bradstreet teach us a great lecture, that even though, we sometimes will dough and disbelieve we must persist and pray, as the Holy Bible says, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, Forever and ever” because God will always lead us to light.
“Anne Bradstreet.” American Literature 620-1800. (2017). [online] Available at: http://www.americanlit.com [Accessed 12 Oct. 2017]. Bradstreet Anne. “To my Dear Children.” The Norton Anthology American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym, Ed. Robert S. Levine. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2012. 123-126. Print.
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